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Specialties & Experience of this Expert Witness

General Specialties:

Athletics & Recreation and Risk Management

Keywords/Search Terms:

zipline, zip lines, zipline accident, zipline braking, zipline brake system, zipline construction, zipline death, zipline safety, residential/backyard zipline, zipline standards, aerial adventure course, aerial adventure course standards, ropes course, challenge course, climbing, ACCT, ASTM, NAARSO


BA: Wilderness Leadership, 1998, Prescott College; MTD: Training & Development, 2004, Oakland University; Level II Inspector, Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT); Level II Inspector, National Association Of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO)

Years in Practice:


Number of Times Deposed/Testified in Last 4 Yrs:


Additional Information

Michael R. Smith is an industry leader and proven business, marketing, and risk management consultant with 25 years of experience designing and developing award-winning aerial adventure parks and 29 years of experience delivering adventure-based tours, adventure programs, and team and leadership development programming. He has worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies as a business consultant, authored and published climbing guides, worked as a Field Instructor for the Outward Bound School, and is regularly retained as a zip line and adventure park expert witness. Smith maintains a niche consultancy, AdventureSmith, Inc., focused on risk management, marketing, business consulting, and staff development systems for the aerial adventure course market. AdventureSmith, Inc. has provided support to many challenge courses, zip lines, and aerial adventure parks in the U.S.A. and Canada. Services include but are not limited to course inspections, operation audits, guide, facilitator, and management training, production of custom zip line and adventure park operation manuals, technical writing, design of web-based and print marketing materials, zip line and challenge course design and layout, risk assessment and reporting, and, in rare cases, complete management services for zip line canopy tours and adventure parks. In addition to his work as a third-party builder, inspector, and trainer, Smith is the founder of ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, an aerial adventure park and zip line canopy tour operator based in Vermont. During his tenure as the managing partner of ArborTrek (2010-2023), the company won many accolades and was regularly named one of the ten best zip line tours in the United States. While Smith's work conducting inspections, training staff, and consulting have taken him to almost every U.S. state and abroad, he has been retained to investigate accidents and opine on matters in Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. Through these investigations, Smith has maintained a balanced portfolio of work for plaintiff and defense counsels. Smith is well-versed in applicable industry standards, including but not limited to ANSI/ACCT Standards, ASTM F2959 and referenced standards, PRCA, and many local codes. He can advise counsel on the applicability of standards, commonly accepted practices, and standards interpretation. In addition, his real-world experience as an end-user, operator, and vendor provides him the advantage of seeing and explaining the market from different perspectives. EDUCATION - Master of Training and Development (MTD), Oakland University, Rochester Hills, Michigan, 2004 - Bachelor of Arts: Wilderness Leadership, Prescott College, Prescott, Arizona, 1998 - Graduate, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Lander, Wyoming, 1997 CERTIFICATIONS - ACCT Level II Professional Inspector, Association for Challenge Course Technology - NAARSO Level II Inspector (advance), National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officers - ACCT Approved Operation Reviewer, Association for Challenge Course Technology - Zip Line Mechanic, Ontario TSSA INDUSTRY VOLUNTEER WORK - Association for Challenge Course Technology = Board of Directors Secretary, present = Board of Directors Member, 2014-2017 = Accreditation and Certification Committee, 2019-2023 = PR & Marketing Committee, Chair, 2012-2013 - ASTM F24.61 sub-committee member, current ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE & ACHIEVEMENTS - 70,000+ total hours of adventure industry experience - 3,000+ hours of training received and continuing education hours - Delivered guide & facilitator training workshops to 1,300+ participants - Developed 17 commercial adventure tours & dozens of traditional challenge course